In my last post we talked about the rep grinds in Mists of Pandaria and how it's creating some problems for players. I see a lot of this as growing pains more than an actual crisis. As the expansion moves forward we'll unlock more content and the frustration will be less of an issue. The best way to deal with the current situation is to prioritize. So I thought I'd talk about that today and share my thoughts.
Some professions can be leveled purely through trainers and have no rep grinds associated with them. This includes Alchemy, Inscription, Enchanting and Engineering. Characters with these professions can function just fine without factions and arguably without grinding at all. I'm not going to say that you can maximize the profit potential of those characters without collecting Spirits of Harmony, but you can do a pretty good amount of crafting without it.
Jewelcrafting has a rep grind (Cloud Serpents) but the recipes they have are purely vanity items. You don't need that rep to make money with Jewelcrafting, so I personally classify this as a non-critical rep grind. Most Jewelcrafters can easily make money with the gem cuts and jewelry patterns they learned from the trainer.
This leaves the armor-crafting professions, which do require farming and rep grinding. To get the bulk of the level 90 patterns you need Spirits of Harmony. And to get pre-raid epic patterns you need Golden Lotus reputation. In terms of time investment, these three professions are the ones that truly merit a top priority status.
I want to talk about another reason why armor professions demand top status and that is because of raiding progression. The very first raid tier of any expansion is when the buying frenzy for gear is at its peak. This is also the period when crafted gear is at its most viable. Crafted gear is as competitive as it's ever going to be against raid drops. On top of this, crafted gear is one of the quickest ways that players can beef up their item level to get into a raid. Once additional raid content starts to come out, crafted gear will gradually slip into obsolescence.
I would argue that armor professions should be your priority right now. Your ability to capitalize on them will go down with every patch, so now is the time to focus on those characters if you want to utilize them. Other professions have pretty steady viability in future content patches, consumables from Alchemy, Jewelcrafting and Enchanting tend to spike up with every patch. Crafted armor often does not. So if you want to make the most of your armor professions, now is the time to do it.
My view is that Blacksmiths are the most important of the three armor crafters. They supply gear for tanks and melee DPS - the most gear dependent classes in the game. Plate gear is in high demand and top performance is more important to melee classes than ranged classes. So plate wearers are more apt to focus on getting the best gear they can to secure a raid spot. It remains to be seen whether monks will propel leather gear higher up the food chain, but for now I would vote Blacksmithing as the most important armor profession.
As far as my personal gameplan is concerned, my main character, Kaliope, is a Leatherworker. So focusing on her is a no-brainer for me. Yet over the last few weeks I've ping-ponged between my Engineer, my Jewelcrafter and my Blacksmith -- trying to give attention to all three. Needless to say I've been disappointed with my ability to properly nurture them all. But since I started thinking through this priority list, I've settled on my Blacksmith as the next character to focus on. Since then she's gone up two more levels and has collected enough motes from questing to buy three more vendor patterns. Once she reaches 89 we're going to the Dread Wastes so she can get her Klaxxi rep up.
I hope my thoughts and personal musings help some of you who may also be struggling with how to prioritize your crafting activities. Feel free to leave your own ideas and opinions in the Comments!